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COLUMN

Nader’s Giant Blunder

Chen Zhao

Ralph Nader has once again put himself in position to spoil the presidential election not just for the Democratic Party, but for all who oppose what President George W. Bush stands for -- unjust wars at the cost of true homeland security, tax cuts for the wealthy, and privileged at the expense of essential programs that provide key assistance to the poor, less regulations for large corporations despite the scarcity of natural resource, and much more.

The 2000 presidential election was one of the closest in American history. If only three electoral votes, the minimum that any state can have, had shifted from Bush to Democrat Al Gore, Bush would not be sitting in the White House right now. Overall nationally, Ralph Nader only received about three percent of the popular vote, but taking into account how small the margin was between Bush and Gore, it can only be concluded that had it not been for Ralph Nader’s candidacy, Gore would have won.

In the crucial state of Florida, if just one measly percent of the people who had voted for Nader had instead cast their vote for Gore, the former vice president would have won Florida and the election. In New Hampshire, if a third of those who supported Nader had voted for Gore, Bush would have never moved into the White House.

Nader often asserts that his supporters would either have not voted or would have voted for Bush had he not run. Even if many of them would have stayed at home instead of going to the polls, it is hardly ridiculous to assume that at least one percent of them would have made their way to the polls and cast a vote for Gore. Also, few, if any at all, would have voted for Bush, since the Green Party and the Republican Party are miles apart ideologically.

In an interview on “Meet the Press” during which he announced his candidacy, Nader said, “After careful thought and my desire to retire our supremely selected president, I've decided to run as an independent candidate for president.” There is no the more erroneous method of trying to unseat President Bush than to take votes away from a candidate who is challenging the president and who actually has a chance to win the election.

If he really hopes to ensure that Bush does not get another four years in the White House, Nader should throw his full support behind the Democratic nominee and urge all of his supporters to do the same. President Bush has a large following and stands a good chance of winning in 2004. The only way for those who oppose him to beat him is to put all of their support behind one man, and that man has to be one who has a realistic chance of winning. Needless to say, Ralph Nader is not that man.

The Democrats are not the only ones who have repeatedly urged him not to run in 2004. Even Nader’s friends supporters have tried to talk him out of this ill-advised plan. The Green Party has refused him and a few of those who voted for him back in 2000 have launched a web site called www.ralphdontrun.net.

The message of the website and the message of the Democratic Party are one and the same. The 2004 presidential election is very crucial in deciding the future of this country. Many issues are at stake, including the future of Iraq and Afghanistan, the role of the U.S. in the United Nations, universal health care for the last industrialized Western nation not to have it, actual improvement of our schools, true homeland security, protection for the environment, a woman’s right to choose, protection of civil rights guaranteed in the Constitution, true separation of church and state, equality for homosexuals via the right to marry, and genuine fiscal responsibility as opposed to shady budget proposals. In order to put this country back on the right track, President Bush has to be defeated, and there is only one party that has the ability to do that.

Ralph Nader may have good ideas about how to reform this country, but the larger point remains that he has no chance of winning. In 2000, when everybody thought that he was going to get a relatively large amount of support, he only got about three percent -- albeit a crucial three percent -- of the national vote. That did not even put him over the five percent mark necessary to get federal funding for the next election. Nader may oppose the two-party system and his views may differ from those of the Democratic party, but he should not forget liberals’ primary goal of this election: ousting George W. Bush. In order not to compromise that, Nader needs to put his personal vanity aside for the greater good.